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Have the courts reopened?

18, 09-2020

Courts have now indicated that they will be resuming some of their usual activities in the coming weeks. Courts are following strict health and safety protocols to ensure that the courts remain safe for everyone. Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom.

Supreme Court

For the Supreme Court, see COVID-19 NOTICE 28, COVID-19 NOTICE 32 (Civil, Family, Insolvency and Bankruptcy proceedings), COVID-19 Notice No. 33 (Criminal), and COVID-19 Notice 34 (Civil and Family), , COVID-19 Notice No. 38 (Criminal Jury Trials) and COVID-19 Notice No. 39. and COVID-19 Notice No. 40 for more information. See HERE for a full index of Supreme Court notices.

In-person registry services have resumed at all Supreme Court registries in British Columbia, and the interim process that the Court established for requesting a hearing of an urgent or essential matter is no longer available. While in-person filing is available, parties are strongly encouraged to use e-filing, or one of the other methods. See Notice No. 33 (Criminal) and Notice No. 34 (Civil and Family) for more details.

Civil jury trials are cancelled up to and including October 1, 2021. . Starting June 1, 2020, some chambers matters will resume by telephone conference, including Judicial Case Conferences, already scheduled chambers matters, and trial management conferences. All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or before June 5, 2020 are adjourned and all civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. Please note that as of May 26, 2020 and until further notice, parties not appearing in person before the Court as a result of measures put in place during the public health emergency are required to e-file their affidavits of service or delivery. See this notice for how to e-file through Court Services Online.

See HERE for information regarding how to book a judicial management conference or trial management conference. Both are currently being held by telephone.

If you estimate your matter will take two hours or less, you can apply for a chambers hearing by phone conference. See Chambers applications during COVID-19 for instructions on how to make a new application or response, or reset an adjourned application.


Note on TMCs: Effective July 27, 2020, parties must file and serve trial briefs, trial records and trial certificates in accordance with the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules. The timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates which were set out in COVID-19 Notice No. 26 no longer apply. The Court’s direction that TMCs proceed by telephone unless the Court otherwise orders continues to apply. To learn more, book a TMC, or rebook a trial, see COVID-19 Notice No. 40.

BC Provincial Court 

For information on the BC Provincial Court, or to determine when your trial, hearing or matter will be heard, see the Notice to the Profession and Public Covid-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations NP19. For a summary of updates, see Provincial Court during COVID-19.

Provincial Court registries are accepting ALL filings at the applicable court registry either in-person or remotely (by mail, email, fax to fax filing registries under GEN 01 Practice Direction, or using Court Services Online where available). To protect the health and safety of all court users and help contain the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining access to the Court, parties are encouraged to use remote filing options wherever possible. 

NOTE: Only trials will be held in-person. Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom. All other matters will be heard by phone or video conference, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Click HERE for the guide to remote proceedings. 

The Provincial Court is holding in-person hearings in a few courthouses around the province. See their May 26, 2020 announcement for more detail. In person hearings will be reserved for priority matters that cannot be dealt with remotely. However, the public is still strongly discouraged from attending court in person. Hearings and other proceedings will take place by video or audio conference unless otherwise directed. 

All trials scheduled in Provincial Court after July 3, 2020 will remain on the trial list and parties should attend court at 9am on the day their trial is scheduled. The Court will then decide which trials will proceed. Other non-trial appearances scheduled for after July 3, 2020, will proceed on the date scheduled, either in court or by phone. See the Court’s latest Notice to the Public for more details. Initial Criminal Appearances in the Fraser, Interior, Northern, and Vancouver Regions, will recommence at all reopened court locations effective June 15, 2020. For the Vancouver Island Region, they will recommence at all reopened court locations effective July 6, 2020. If an individual has a matter scheduled from June 15 to July 3, 2020, they do not need to attend court and their matter will be adjourned to a date as set out in Appendix “A” of the Notice to the Public. For more about Initial Criminal Appearances, click HERE.

Court of Appeal

The BC Court of Appeal has continued its suspension of required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings. This means that until further notice you may start an appeal if you wish to do so, but, if you are unable to start an appeal, you can wait without concern until the end of the state of emergency. Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods. The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice. As of August 19, deadlines have been suspended until September 14, 2020. 

This was the last extension. Also, parties may now request that their appeal hearing proceed in a courtroom or by Zoom videoconference. For more information, see theNotice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.The Court of Appeal has also created a webinar to assist people with electronic filing.

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